When it comes to Star Wars comics, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I went into Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison with a little skepticism. I mean, with a title like that and a cover reminiscent of an old, cheesy horror movie with the tag line “Welcome to Coruscant– A Good Place TO DIE!” one must be cautious. The only thing missing was Vader Force choking the Bride of Frankenstein, which would have been fantastic.
All that said, I’m glad I put all those doubts aside, because this was an interesting read.
Taking place sometime after the Clone Wars have ended, The Emperor’s new apprentice, Darth Vader, has been tasked with vanquishing the remaining foes who survived the war. But, we don’t really see much of Vader here, at least, not in this first issue. This story is told from the point of view of Cadet Tohm, a young man training to become an Imperial Officer. Revolving a story around a character new to the universe is typically a red flag for me, because it just doesn’t capture my interest. There’s so much to explore with the characters already established in this world, so why do we need to throw out so many new ones? But, Tohm caught my attention from the beginning, perhaps, due to his questionable appearance. The left side of his body seems to be disfigured. His face badly burned from the looks of it, and his left arm missing completely. There are a few mentions to his obvious disabilities, “Did your condition inspire you to work harder than the other students or did it encourage them to underestimate you?” but other than that, it’s kind of glossed over. And, that’s how you get me interested in a character, the mystery. This dude has obviously been through a lot, but what? Was he born this way? Was there a freak accident? Did his best friend throw him in a lava pit on the Mustafar system? (For some reason, I assume this is a common occurrence between friends in the Star Wars Universe.)
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story for you all, but I will say things take an interesting turn shorty after the cadet’s graduation. As the first issue of a 5-part series, it definitely succeeded in catching my attention from the get go. Visually, it looks superb. I loved the artwork. Also to be noted, the troops are referred to as “Stormtroopers” even though it seems to take place not too far after the Clone Wars. The trooper helmets are an interesting meld of Clone Trooper fused with the mouth piece of the classic Stormtroopers. Nice to see them showing the transition period. We also get to see what I’m lead to believe might be a TIE Fighter prototype, but it’s hard to say.
All-in-all, it’s a great first issue. I think what I liked most about it is the fact that if you took the Star Wars “out” of the story and it was just a young, disfigured cadet in the military with a mysterious past, you still get an interesting tale. And, that to me is good writing.